KM Mani, the finance minister of Kerala, has been appointed as the chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers with the crucial mandate to work in coordination with the Centre to usher in the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The Union finance ministry on Tuesday sent a communique announcing Mani’s appointment to all states.
While others including Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel and West Bengal’s Amit Mitra were considered for the post, what went in the Kerala leader’s favour was his being from the opposition Congress party’s fold; Mani’s Kerala Congress is an ally of the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala. The Centre needs the states’ support in launching the GST from April 1, 2016 as announced in the latest central Budget and feels that it will be strategically wrong to appoint a BJP leader as the chairman of the empowered committee.
Mani, 81,who holds a record of presenting the largest number of state Budgets, presented his 13th Budget in the Kerala Assembly on March 13. A member of the Kerala legislature consecutively for the last 50 years, he, however, has lately been embroiled in a controversy over his allegedly receiving bribes from bar owners and other traders.